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Emerging technologies and their impact on the society

Technology
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On the 9th of March, the Bergen Energy Lab arranged a half-day seminar on emerging technologies and their impact on the society. Both current technology and technology on a very early stage/concept stage were presented, together with the challenges and opportunities posed by technological development.

Kjetil Rommetveit, associate professor at the centre for the study of the sciences and the humanities opened the seminar, speaking about responsible energy transition. PDFs of the presentations are available by clicking the name of the speakers below.

The first session was devoted to currently available technologies. Kristin Guldbrandsen Frøysa, director of NORCOWE and associate professor II at UiB, presented wind turbines for use in urban environments. Small-scale wind turbines can be used to harvest wind energy within cities and on top of buildings, but face challenges related to resource assessment, complicated wind conditions, visual impacts and economic aspects.

Simona Petroncini, founder of the Bergen-based solar photovoltaic company Solbære, explained why solar cells in Bergen is a good idea. A lot of wind and rain helps holding the solar panels clean, they function best with cold temperatures, and contrary to many people’s beliefs there is a lot of sun in Bergen.

Småkraft was founded in 2002, and builds and owns small hydropower plants. Currently they have 92 plants in operation, with a total of 900 GWh in their portfolio. According to a study from the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, the Norwegian potential of small-hydro is as high as 25 TWh. In addition to building small hydropower plants, Halvard Tesdal also pointed out that Småkraft gives added value that lasts for generations to the local society through improved infrastructure and wealth generation.

After lunch it was time to look ten years into the future, and the technologies of tomorrow. Lars Egil Helseth from the department of Physics and Technology, explained how electricity can be produced directly from raindrops. By using an energy conversion unit in the form of a triboelectric or piezoelectric transducer, the mechanical energy of raindrops can be converted into electrical energy.

86 % of solar cells on the market today are made from crystalline materials. Dhayalan Velauthapillai from HVL presented some of the emerging solar cell technologies. For example dye sensitized solar cells, perovskite solar cells, quantum dots sensitized solar cells and so on. At HVL, Dhayalan and his colleagues are doing computer simulations, characterization studies and fabrication of the next generation of solar cells.

Thomas Hårklau from Kitemill presented a new concept for harvesting wind energy at very high altitudes. By using kites, Kitemill can take advantage of the strong and more stable winds at 500 – 1500 meters over the ground.

The last session concerned the social and legal impacts of new and emerging technologies. Helge L. Tvedt, PhD-Student at the department of Geography, spoke about social perspectives on the commercialization of green technologies and professor Ernst Nordtveit from the faculty of law explained the transformation of Energy Laws.